While you shake off your hangovers, brush the glitter off your face and deal with the passed out friend on your couch (this was the routine result of New Years in my house for years) I’d like to share a story with you from last night. No, it’s not the story of the wonderful people I met and talked to (including a very smart and attractive teacher), it’s one of hope and missed connections.
Everyone today is talking about resolutions and their plans for the upcoming 365 days. What they are going to change about themselves, who they are going to become.
Instead we’re going to talk of the power of hope. Fate.
This was on every single light post for 6 blocks in either direction of the bar.
Before we had such nifty things like facebook, craigslist missed connections or cell phones, you were so limited by ways you could try and get in contact with someone you missed. You could put an ad in the paper in the personals column. You could go back to the same bar every night and pray they would show up. You could try this tactic, and make posters and place them all over town. But all of these relied on hope that they’d see it, or that fate would bring them back into your life.
This lady made a mistake – I don’t know what it is, or how it came about. All that matters in my eyes is that she went so far, and tried so hard to rectify it. She made a grand romantic gesture and put herself out there. She used all of the means she had available and more than anything, wants things to work.
I want them to work out for her too. We all should be so lucky as to have things work out for us.
It’s a new year. You have all the opportunities before you that you wish to make. Some of us will sit back and let life takes it’s course. Let fate steer us along the path. Others will stand up and take action. Try and make the river flow in the directions we want, change the path we walk.
Some will learn that the directions they want to go in aren’t feasible, despite everything they wish and desire. They’ll build walls and dams to divert the flow as long as possible. But water always wins in the end.
I think the smartest among us will build boats – and follow the river. They’ll control their speed and course, make decisions on when to stop and what branches to take. They’ll work with fate, and become not as a master to the river of fate, but as a companion.
I encourage you to think about what you really want this year. What hopes you actually have that you don’t ever say – except in the dead of night when no one can hear. Those hopes you have? Those should be the ones you follow and act on. They are the ones I think that are important. Promise yourself you’ll listen to them.
Promise of a greater hope. Promise of a better day.
If nothing else, one day you can look someone straight in the eyes and say “But I lived through it. And it made me who I am today.”
― Iain Thomas
At this time of year, we are all in the habit of looking at where we’ve come from in the past year, what growth we’ve made. We ponder what the new year will bring, and make promises to ourselves about what will do to improve ourselves.
For myself, 2013 was a roller coaster ride. I went from depressed and longing, to utter happiness and accomplishment, then back to being morose. I started the year in my eyes as a failure and ended as a winner when it came to hiking.
Highlights of the year 2013
- Walked 2185.7 miles
- Met some amazing people
- Saw sights I never had before
- Made discoveries about myself, and the person I am
- Feel in love
- Was cheated on
- Made a grand romantic gesture, sans boombox
- Started playing music again
- Accomplished what I set out to do
Everything on that list, baring one, were things I did. I had ups and downs, good times and bad. I followed my dreams and was rewarded. I was also punished for decisions I made along the way.
In the end though, after 365 days I’m older and a little wiser. I’ve accepted the fact that my parents know what they’re talking about, and mom is usually right. I should follow my dreams and make plans for the future, budget and commit to things. I should let people know how I feel, and especially tell the people that I care for that I love them.
I don’t know what the new year will bring. I can’t look into the future like that, though sometimes I wish I could. All that really is for sure is that you can’t change what has happened, nor can you forget the things in the past. Embrace them. Accept them. Make them part of who you are. Take the things that hurt, the people that you miss and use those good memories of them to plug the holes in your heart and soul.
The things that hurt you in the past year have made you stronger – I know that because we’re still here.
I hope the coming year brings joy and happiness. It limits your sorrows and dulls your pain. May we all heal a little in the year 2014.
Thank you for reading.
“Oh look at this one! It’s a (long sounding latin name I still never remember.)”
I heard about Damselfly long before I ever met her.
“Did you hear about the new chick that got on the Trail in Harper’s Ferry? She’s pretty hot! Smart too! She’s hiking with Uncle Buck!”
“I thought you said she was smart. Why is she hiking with Uncle Buck….”
When I met Damselfly it was really in passing into Duncannon PA. I had made it to town for the Billville hiker feed and a weekend of fun and zero days. She was stopping in town for 1 day to meet up with her step-dad, who wanted to hike with her for a week or two. He was leaving his car at the Doyle.
I don’t even remember what really sparked the conversation, but I’m pretty sure it had something to do with her gear, and how it looked heavy from where I was, drunk and leaning out of the second floor fire escape door.
“No worries! Shakedown in 3 minutes or less guaranteed to lighten you by 5 pounds or an ice cream novelty!”
Her step-dad had all manner of interesting heavy things. His pack was… heavy. More than a little heavy. Possibly very. He had a solid core air mattress that weighed more than my shelter and all my sleeping gear.
Damselfly was a little better off, and she lost a few things there that helped. I tried to convince them to stay another day and enjoy the hikers and the festivities. But she wanted to hike. She wanted to hike a lot.
It was the first person in awhile I had found who was still eager everyday to get up and hike. Maybe it was because she still had fresh legs, she didn’t know what the score was, or how monotonous it had gotten. Or how PA sucked.
She was happy to be there. It was like being in Georgia all over again. For her it was.
I told her I’d catch up to her in a few days. When I did it was 100 degrees, awful bugs and terrible terrain. He step-dad had gotten off the trail already and was headed home.
But you couldn’t keep Damselfly down. Even through all the awfulness of PA when I hiked with her, she was smiling and happy. She never expressed a moment of true despair or negativity. Sure she bitched a bit about the rocks, heat and bugs – but the whole time she did it she was smiling. Happy to be out in the world, in the woods and not at her old job or in school anymore. She was alive and unstressed.
It was like watching a bird fly for the first time. Beautiful.
Damselfly got her name because she’s an entomologist. She’s a bug person. A really really smart bug person. She knew the names of everything that was around – and even gave me the official latin name for the “no-see-ums” and biting gnats that plagued us in PA. Of course I don’t remember what they were, but she knew them. I remember camping with her one night and she knew all sorts of things about the fireflies that came out to play.
Sometimes you hike with someone who has good stories to tell. Someone who provides humor or life lessons through their tales. Other times your find people who have such a vast knowledge and intelligence on a subject(s) that you are awed by them. Others have the positive, always sunny attitudes that just lift your day.
Damselfly was all of that. Every single day I ever spent near her was a good one. She made the day better – instilled knowledge and positive feelings and love with every step and word, despite the pain she had and was dealing with. It left me in awe of her mental and physical fortitude. It made me a little jealous.
I knew she’d get to the end.
She’s a good person to be around. She’s one I miss quite a bit.
This was on Reddit today. It really moved me.
Love is such a powerful and beautiful thing. You’ll do all kinds of things for the person you love – and when they love you back they do the same.
I don’t know if I believe in the idea of “one true love” – it’s a hard thing to really accept, given just how many people there are in the world… but I do believe in True Love.
I’ve felt love. It was wonderful. It was beautiful. It was painful. It was heartbreaking when it was over.
But what I learned from all of that, from loving someone so much that I gave things up I wanted dearly, changed my hike for them and then tried my hardest to better for them, was that it’s worth it. Love is worth all the pain and suffering that can come from it. Because even if you only have it for a moment, it’s a special thing.
You don’t have that love just through yourself. You have it together with another person. So if you have someone out there you love – run to them! Get on a plane, a bus, a train. Jump in your car and drive all night. Make that effort to be with them. They’re worth it.
Sometimes, a grand romantic gesture is just what the world needs.
Sometimes you just need to be with that person you love – no matter what the cost.
A friend once told me that she learned to love again thanks to the AT. I did as well. It’s something I’ll always cherish that, and the person who taught me to love again.
What are you doing still reading this? Go! Run to your love. Or at least call them!